Being in London, I was lucky enough to visit an exhibition of artist Chaïm Soutine’s portraits of service industry professionals in 1920s Paris. It was quite moving because he brought so much humanity to his subjects. There were personalities behind the uniforms – which is not how the world saw it back then.
You could see the truth about how the industry shapes us – from the careworn look on the pastry chef’s face to the sensitivity of the valet. Not all of the subjects seemed entirely comfortable with being portrayed.
This week every obituary for Chef Paul Bocuse makes reference to how he raised the profile of chefs around the world, giving us the permission to really own who we are. Although chefs are more visible today, to some extent we still need to revisit our relationship with being seen. We’re willing to show the world our brilliance. But are we comfortable with revealing the harsh truth about our work?